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Patch 2.4.2 Hotfixes, End-Game Group Meta & Forthcoming Changes
A new patch has hit the Public Test Realm. It brings not only hotfixes but also mechanic tweaks. Wyatt Cheng made a post about incoming meta changes.
Patch 2.4.2 Hotfixes
A new patch was deployed on PTRs recently and it brings the following changes.
Below you will find a list of hotfixes recently applied or coming soon to the PTR that address various bugs or mechanic tweaks.
These hotfixes should not require you to download a new patch. Some of the hotfixes below will go live the moment they are implemented while others may require restarting the game to go into effect. Please keep in mind that some issues cannot be addressed without a client-side patch. Also note that changes to certain abilities will not be reflected in its tooltip until a patch is issued.
Last updated June 24. Hotfixes are denoted by the date they were applied to the PTR servers.
Monk Epiphany Soothing Mist healing reduced by 60% Blinding Flash Crippling Light damage reduction reduced from 40% to 25% Starfire The benefit to lightning damage is now capped at 40 yards Note: Many of these changes play into a larger development effort onto which we've gone into detail here.
Items Fixed an issue that caused Girdle of Giants to increase the damage of all skills by the percentage it applied to Earthquake damage Fixed an issue that caused Scarbringer to grant a damage bonus of 200%. It has been increased to 300% to match the tooltip. Fixed an issue that caused Lashing Tail Kick (Vulture Claw Kick) DoT to not benefit from the bonus damage granted by Scarbringer (Source)
Upcoming Meta Changes
Wyatt Cheng has shared some developer insight in some recent gameplay mechanics that are bugging the team. Just to mention a few; devs aren't satisfied with the efficiency of grouping up large packs of mobs, not even having to move while fighting, because grouping up mobs, standing and absorbing damage is more efficient than being on the move while dealing damage. That's why they are planning to drastically reduce the amount of healing available. He describes some changes as "drastic" and claims a lot of players may be very well surprised.
Many concerns have been brought up regarding "the meta" - the current group composition perceived to be the best at high levels of play. From a design standpoint, our job as a development team is to give players tools and leave room for players to combine these tools and perform optimizations to reach the highest greater rift that they can. The top-performing 4-player group composition is not something we rigidly design. Indeed, we feel that if we designed in such a rigid manner so as to know what the best composition is beforehand, we likely haven't created a rich enough space for players to explore.
Over time, the community settles on a small set of ways to combine these tools. Every so often, a discovery is made that shakes up "the meta," but these discoveries become more rare as the game matures. In reaction to this some players would like us to change the balance of the game just for the sake of change. I want to be clear—"the meta" being stale is not a good enough reason for us to take action. As Diablo matures the "meta" is not going to change every season. With that in mind, there are three criteria we use to decide whether change is warranted:
1. Does the current best composition represent a variety of classes? For example, we have taken action in the past when 3 Demon Hunters was the best answer, or 2 Monks and 2 Barbarians.
2. How far ahead is the top tier vs. the next best composition? If the top composition was 2 greater rift tiers ahead there might be a sense that there's still room for alternate specs, or people could make a playstyle choice at the sacrifice of some efficiency. When the top composition is 10 greater rift tiers ahead, then even farming groups or casual community pickup groups start to organize into this composition.
3. Most importantly, how interesting is the gameplay? As much as we'd all love to see a variety of classes and gameplay styles, it's actually the most critical that when you are playing these high-end group compositions that the gameplay is interesting and engaging.
How do we define interesting and engaging?
It's more interesting and engaging if you are moving occasionally than highly stationary It's more interesting and engaging if you have to adapt to the type of monster you're fighting It's more interesting and engaging when you are playing the monster mechanics It's more interesting and engaging when a group has to coordinate for maximum benefit Currently there are many suggestions on how to shake up "the meta". There have been a LOT of really great suggestions. We've reviewed many of them through the lens of the three criteria I've outlined. Most specifically many people have called for a straight up nerf of the Twisted Sword. While we are going to nerf Twisted Sword, I also want to explain why we are going to do more than that.
If all we do is nerf Twisted Sword, we believe what will happen is most groups will simply swap out the current top Wizard build and go to the next highest DPS build. You'll still see a grouper/tank (usually a Monk), a puller (usually a Barbarian), a DPS buffer (a Witch Doctor) and then whoever outputs the highest DPS in the game (currently a Wizard). Only going after the Wizard is going to do very little for addressing criteria #2 and criteria #3.
There are three major problems and three corresponding major changes we are looking to make.
PROBLEM #1: Bringing damage support buffers is more effective than bringing a second damage dealer. Why bring damage dealer #2 when you can bring a damage support who increases the damage of damage dealer #1 by 300%?
CHANGE #1: We are going to be reviewing the party-based damage buffs provided by all the classes. The degree to which some classes can buff party damage is a huge contributor to the 1 DPS - 3 Support meta.
PROBLEM #2: It is too easy to group monsters together. This is bad because:
It disproportionately increases the damage of the group compared to adding a 2nd damage dealer. If you have twice as many monsters grouped, not only are you dealing twice as much total damage - you're also scaling Area Damage upwards. On top of this, many of the grouping mechanics encourages stationary combat. If you're chain-pulling monsters to a point, you're fighting in one location for extended periods of time. In addition to being stationary, you’re also casting spells at a single location – it’s more engaging when you have to adjust dynamically to a changing battlefield. The grouping mechanics also act as a soft crowd-control, disabling monsters from attacking players, causing combat to feel stagnant and non-interactive. Grouping increases visual noise, which makes discerning (and hence responding to) monster mechanics difficult. Finally, it can cause server issues. While we are always working on server performance optimizations, we also need to recognize that the current game design rewards players for bringing as many monsters as possible onto the screen at once. CHANGE #2: We are going to make adjustments to crowd control and pull effects to make it harder to perpetually pull monsters onto a single point.
PROBLEM #3: Extremely high rates of healing favor standing still to do more damage instead of respecting and avoiding monster mechanics .
CHANGE #3: One of the reasons you can ignore most monster mechanics is the amount of healing available. Expect to see a drastic reduction in available healing.
Will this affect solo play? Yes - some solo builds will be affected. For the most part we are trying to target the changes so they affect groups more than solo play. Weighing the needs of solo players vs. group players is a never ending and difficult task and in this case we feel that the quality of improvement to group play warrants the changes. It is an ongoing goal to make more builds viable, and the classes closer together in competitiveness. The requests for buffs to particular class sets or legendary items have been heard, we just feel making meaningful changes to group play is more important at this time.
Will this cause the highest rift tier to go down? To be frank - probably. We've never really done this before - nerfing the top performing builds. There are open questions ahead of us. How will this make the season feel? How will this affect non-seasonal play? In the past we've always had a philosophy to adjust the balance of the game by buffing what's low, but in this case that's not really an option. Take a look at the problems and solutions being proposed - these are problems that can't be solved with larger damage numbers. These are problems with group-based damage multipliers, healing, and combat utility.
Finally - I want to circle back to a statement from the start of this post - as developers we do not know what the new optimal group composition will be. We're making some significant changes here and the game is intentionally too complex for us to figure out optimal strategies on our own. The collective wisdom of the player base is far more resourceful and capable than us. As a result - we really need people to jump on the PTR and try this stuff out! Particularly 4-player groups. If some highly competitive group discovers a composition of 4 Crusaders that is the most effective but deliberately "hides" it from the rest of the community, then there's not much we, the development team, can do. While we are ultimately responsible for the quality of Diablo III, we can't improve this game without your help.
There will be specific changes available to peruse in the next PTR patch.
Fair warning: The reduction to group buffs is severe. People will be shell shocked.
If the goal is that 2 DPS can do more damage than 1 DPS + 1 support then it means no single class can bring > 100% worth of damage multipliers to the party. A support Witchdoctor in particular increases the effectiveness of party DPS by 300%+.
What do you think about these changes? Will they improve the overall QoL of the game?
Bans for Non-Seasonal Players
The banhammer has struck once again in Diablo III, targeting cheaters in Non-Season.
You might remember the multiple banwaves that took place at the end of Season 5; both Realbookwurm and I had talked extensively about them. Quite a few high-profile players were targeted then and the impact on the leaderboards was massive.
This time, two banwaves seemed to have happened in Non-Season: one last week and one yesterday. As it was proved from the previous banwaves, most of the targeted players held some place in the leaderboards. Moreover, a lot of them were playing in Hardcore Non-Season. According to this Reddit thread, two high-profile players, Philosophios and Joebo, were among the people who got banned.
Some players have made posts complaining that they were banned unfairly. Obviously, no one but Blizzard can know if their statements are truthful. On the one hand, the community is quick to harshly turn down any claims of innocence. On the other hand, there can be false positives: a recent banwave in World of Warcraft also targeted a few innocent players by mistake. It is also notable that Blizzard hasn't admitted to any false positives in Diablo III this year (2016).
One explanation is that these bans can be retro-active. A player in r/diablo3 admitted to botting and getting banned, but he also noted that he botted before the middle of April. That's more than 2 months ago.
It is unsure which program was used by the cheaters targeted in the current banwaves. Players are asking Blizzard to clarify which methods are considered legitimate and which are not. Be aware that these may not be the only banwaves happening this period!
Lead Writer for Reaper of Souls Leaves Blizzard
Brian Kindregan, the lead writer for Diablo III's expansion Reaper of Souls, is no longer working for Blizzard Entertainment.
Brian Kindregan announced in his blog that he is no longer working for Blizzard. Kindregan is the leader writer for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm. He has also worked as a writer on Bioware's Mass Effect 2. Here's what he had to say:
While we don't cover the StarCraft universe here in Icy Veins, it has one of the strongest stories in all of Blizzard's gaming universes. It really is worth checking out, even if you haven't played the games; in my opinion, it would make a really good movie or TV series. On the other hand, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls has a simpler, shorter and more stereotypical story. Still, Reaper of Souls' story avoided the extremities and the weak plotlines and clichés of vanilla Diablo III.
This isn't the only loss the Diablo team has gone through recently. Diablo 3 lost three major devs on April (one left Blizzard altogether, while two were moved to the WoW team). Jay Wilson - lead designer of vanilla D3, who was later moved to the WoW team - left Blizzard as well a couple of weeks ago.
Did you enjoy the story of Reaper of Souls? And if you are familiar with the StarCraft II games, did you like their story?
Developer Insights: Behind the Goblin Giggle
Ever wondered how the trademark laughter of our favourite Sanctuary loot hoarders was created?
We love these insights on how Diablo III was created: they show what makes Blizzard a great company. Who hasn't excitedly yelled "GOBLIN!" after hearing its characteristic giggle? In a dedicated blog post, it is explained how the sounds of the Sanctuary were generally created, what is unique about the goblin sound and how it fit with the overall dark theme of the Diablo universe.
"Whee-hee!” It’s a natural reaction. The moment you hear that high-pitched, maniacal giggle, you have to track down its source. In an instant, you know by the sound of that mischievous squeal that untold treasures await. No matter the peril in your way, you will track it down and claim its hoard. That adrenaline rush all starts with a sound. Sound design can too often go unrecognized. Every clang of a sword, rustle of foliage, and mystical hum of arcane power in Diablo III was carefully and lovingly crafted. In order to lend some insight as to how these auditory punctuations are put together, we want to share the story behind one of our most iconic sound-driven features: the Treasure Goblin.
The General Process
Behind every monster noise and combat clang, there’s a process. Ordinarily, teams like game design and art will place requests for sound design based on what the game needs. This might be anything from a Legendary power to a new monster and their combat noises. Then begins an experimentation process that’s become more gut instinct than step-by-step procedure for our experienced and well-oiled sound design team.
“We’ve built such trust over the years that we typically just start working on stuff,” Sound Design Supervisor Seph Lawrence says, fondly looking back on the twelve years of work he’s poured into Sanctuary. Different tasks get assigned out to the team of sound designers and each artist takes their own individual initiative to bring the game to life.
Approaches vary widely, but it always begins with taking a look at the clues the rest of the development team has provided. For example, when designing sounds for a monster, it’s best to start with other developed content like story and lore, concept art or 3D models, or combat abilities. In order to narrow in on what details might be needed, the sound team begins to ask questions like, “How big is it? What’s the creature made of? Is it fleshy or made of bone? Does it spew liquid? Is it a watery liquid or more like a goo? What’s its home environment like?” The inquiries can be endless, but sometimes, even they may not be enough, and the artist pulls from their imagination to fill in the blanks.
An enemy looks really different when you think about how it sounds.
From there, a designer can delve into either an exhaustive library of original sound effects to put something together or acquire recordings of relevant sounds. This can be accomplished either by reproducing sound effects in a recording setting, or voice-over for more vocalized needs. Most often, it is a combination of all three; manipulating, layering, and mixing them together to create something new, unique, and memorable.
On Goblins and Gold Piles
While this general process for sound design applies to most of the sounds you hear in Sanctuary, the Treasure Goblin proved to be an entirely different beast. How quickly and serendipitously his sounds came together is what truly makes him special.
The Treasure Goblin was a later addition to Diablo III. When the sound team was presented with his art, there was some trepidation in the need to tackle “yet another bi-pedal monster.” So they asked, “What makes him unique? What is the best detail to hone in on?” Ultimately, the trademark grin on every Goblin’s face revealed a conniving vibe.
The development team was eager to get a placeholder into the game, so Seph took to the recording booth to experiment. “I wasn’t trying to make the final stuff,” he swears, shrugging helplessly. “It just kind of ended up that way.” Through a series of laughs, guttural giggles, and playful exclamations, the core feel for the goblin came together quickly.
The sounds that Seph produced in the recording studio went over to Michael Johnson, who is now also a Sound Design Supervisor. He processed the raw audio, playing with tonality and pitching up Seph’s performance. Ordinarily, for a darker, more horror-oriented game like Diablo, this technique would be avoided as it has a tendency to produce a cartoony result. For some reason, this direction just worked for the Treasure Goblin and the rest of the development team loved it.
The Treasure Goblin was the result of a perfect storm made up of instinct, experimentation, and a lack of fear in the final product. The team didn’t get tied up in perfectionism; they entered the realm of improvisation and riffed until it just felt right. With the emotional response this little guy evokes before he’s even seen on screen, it’s hard to argue with the results.
Leaving Lasting Impressions
Diablo has a very unique sound to it. Senior Sound Designer David Rovin explains that the goal is to be darker and more organic overall. “We avoid things like delay echoes or things that sound particularly ‘sci-fi.’” That said, despite his comical nature, the Treasure Goblin surprisingly fit in well to this auditory aesthetic, introducing a brief moment of humor and whimsy to the otherwise bleak and dark tone of Sanctuary.
What’s your first reaction when you hear a Goblin giggle? Are there any other sounds in Diablo that give you a gut reaction? Tell us your favorites in the comments below and the next time you’re out running bounties or Rifts, open your ears and listen a little more closely to the sounds of Sanctuary.
Perma-freeze Wizard still dead?
I recently just started playing again, stopped playing when ROS dropped because my expensive and amazingly fun to play wiz was now dead.
Also moved down to playing on console.
So is perma freeze wiz build still just as dead as ever? Has something taken it's place?
Ive been using Spectral Build found here and it's amazing, but I figured I could ask if there was another perma freeze build again.